IU honors Meryl Streep—plus my favorite performances

April 14, 2014
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Four years of study? Who needs it when you are arguably the most celebrated actress of your generation?

On April 16, Meryl Streep claims an honorary degree from IU. The visit also includes a lecture (sorry but tickets have all already been distributed) and a film retrospective at IU Cinema. Already screened: "The Iron Lady" and "Silkwood." Upcoming: "August: Osage County," "Sophie's Choice," and "A Prairie Home Companion" (the last of which Streep is scheduled to attend).

Streep2I still remember being knocked out by Streep's first major film performance in "The Deer Hunter" and am looking forward, 36 years later, to seeing her as the witch in "Into the Woods" later this year.

In celebration, I thought I'd look over her filmography and try to find my favorite ten Streep performance. Not an easy task, but one that yielded some surprises for me--including the sheer number of films I've seen her in. Of course, I had to stretch my list to twelve...and even that wasn't easy.

So here, with extreme appreciation, are my my favorite dozen Streep performances.

"A Prairie Home Companion" (not her best film, but she's so good and so right in every second on screen, including the very moving ending, that I couldn't help letting it top the list)

"The Deer Hunter" (indelibly holding her own in a cast that included De Niro, Walken and Cazale)

"Silkwood" (a great actress is as good in the small moments as she is in the big ones)

"The Fantastic Mr. Fox" (okay, not heavy lifting, but vocal acting perfection in its own way)

"Ironweed" (forgotten largely because it's grueling)

"Julie & Julia" (If only this movie were simply "Julia")

"Sophie's Choice" (a wide, wide ranging performance)

"Kramer vs. Kramer" (Hoffman gets all the sympathy, but Streep has to do the difficult work of showing her Kramer's change)

"The Bridges of Madison County" (In a movie that had every right to be pablum, Streep shines)

"Manhattan" (Showing what a young Streep could do with very little screen time)

"A Cry in the Dark" (forget the subsequent dingo jokes, this is amazing work)

"Out of Africa" (Sometimes the toughest roles are ones where you have to compete with nature)

And, no, I've never seen "The French Lieutenant's Woman.

Care to add any? Or name your favorite?

  • Devil Wears Prada!
    A goofy, ridiculous movie, but her scene when she is sans make up and confesses that she is going to get divorced is beautiful. And she's a hoot in "A Series of Unfortunate Events."
  • M.S. film
    1989's "She-Devil." Seriously. Watch it. Meryl was of course nominated for a Golden Globe, same year Meg Ryan was nominated for "When Harry Met Sally…" Both lost to Jessica Tandy ("Driving Miss Daisy").
  • The hours
    The Hours is one of my favourite movies and her performance is steller in it. But having seen every film she's ever made, the 2 that take my breath away most are: The bridges of Madison county and August Osage county. What's interesting is that both these films have sad endings and she's not playing some well known heavy weight character, yet I enjoy them the most. For me that's a big part of her uniqueness- she has the power to move you on such a deep emotional level and in a relatable way, regardless of the story/material! I Even love Mamma Mia, which wouldn't normally be to my taste but she brings something real and authentic to it. There can be no denying her star quality if you ask me.
  • favorite film
    The Bridges of Madison County, One True Thing, crazy good in Postcards from the Edge, and I am sorry but you have got to love Mamma Mia.

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